Mixed reaction as cruise ships return to Milford Sound - 1News

3 months ago 25

The tourists, including cruise ships, are back in the Milford Sound.

While tourism operators are welcoming their return to the region, others are slightly worried about how they'll cope with the influx.

Locals told Q+A's Whena Owen that since the Australian school holidays began, numbers have shot up.

"They're coming back in big numbers, it's really good to see. Buses are full, there's lots of people milling around, it's great to hear different accents around the restaurant. It's been a long time since we've heard that, so it's exciting times."

But while bigger spending tourists have returned, backpackers, freedom campers and those on working visas have yet to arrive, meaning businesses are struggling to find staff and locals are often working multiple jobs to keep things going.

Milford Opportunities hopes to spread out tourism numbers more evenly by introducing permits for international tourists, schemes like a hop on, hop off, Park and Ride, and cycle trails.

Feasibility work for all the plans is underway, but not expected back until mid-2024.

Local tourism operator Steve Norris says the government needs to move fast: "Already the numbers are coming back, so if they're going to make decisions they've got to be made pretty smartly, or the horse will have bolted."

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